Tight screws are best (mom and I build a sink base)

Yesterday was the hubby’s birthday. To celebrate, my mom and I traveled up to the Yrppie homestead to build a sink base. Then we traveled all the way back to Harrisburg so I could grill expensive steaks in the middle of a electrical storm and horrendous downpours for his birthday dinner. The reason my mom and I put the sink base together, instead of the hubby and I, was because I wanted to give him a break from working a full day at work and then working a full night on the renovations. He needs sleep. And meat. Hot, grilled meat.

On Monday we had this conversation:

Hubby: So tomorrow for my birthday do you want to go up to the farm and put that sink together?

Me: Why? 

Hubby: The plumber wants it put together so he can see where to put the plumbing.

Me: We can’t give him the dimensions? The wall is not even in yet. I am not mowing the damn grass.

Hubby: Blah, blah, blah, blah (to quote Maggie-she has gotten rather cheeky as she edges closer to the big “5”)

He actually went on a rant about how much there is to do, how I complain all the time, how I hate mowing the grass (he throws that into EVERY debate) etc, etc, etc. Rather than engage in this debate I just let him think he won. Then I suckered my mom into going up and putting the sink base together with me. We were done and back soon after he got home from work.

It took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes (not counting driving time). It would have taken  less than two, but we had a few snafus along the way. As a reminder, here is a picture of an Ikea sink base that is SIMILAR to ours (ours has handles):

Ikea Sink Base, picture from Sunset magazine

The first thing we did was take inventory of the cabinet parts and directions.

Pre-assembly Sink Base

There were a lot pieces but we weren’t “scurred”. Since my mom was with me I had to act like I am all organized in life, so we grouped all the hardware with their buddies and made sure we had all the parts.

Mom found the hardware!

All pieces grouped and accounted for

The we took a picture of ourselves; you can see how excited we were:

Self-portrait of myself and my mom

We had our first hiccup as soon as we started. I got the drill out and felt all powerful and “I am woman; hear me roar”.  Then I proceeded to strip the crap out of the very first screw because the drill was on reverse, which I did not figure out until after my second attempt. My mom made the comment “Shouldn’t the drill be doing all the work?” as I was bent over grunting and sweating, trying to push the screw into the pre-drilled hole. Her comment inspired my “ah-ha!” moment. Sure enough, when I looked, the drill was set to “reverse”. Once we got that straightened out it was quick work. Mom got a blister on her thumb from from grabbing the stripped screws; she did not believe me when I told her they were hot. Then my mom made a comment about needing a hot screw. No we were not drinking, my mom is just classy like that.

Here is our cabinet base put together, at this point we did not realize that we had put the wall mounts in backwards. Whoops.

Mom and the directions; we THOUGHT it matched to picture perfectly

Can you find the mistake in this picture? We did not realize it until we went to put the drawers in.


We then assembled the drawers. I was reminded as to why I did not get into gifted classes in 3rd grade; spatial visualization has always been my downfall. After about 10 minutes of pondering which way the sliders slid, and 20 minutes putting the first drawer together, we were on a roll.

When we went to put the drawers in; I realized we had a problem. Luckily I knew the drill had a reverse, so we unscrewed and rescrewed the wall mounts in the right direction. Once again my mom made some un-mom joke about never having enough screws. I cannot take her anywhere.

Mom-tightening the screws


Wall mounts reversed

Once everything was facing the right way, we lugged it upstairs, put the drawers in, and called it a day. When it is actually installed, the base will have feet and a sink top so it will be standard height. (No we are not installing a sink for the Tyrion Lannisters of the world.) I did spend about 5 minutes perplexed about where the top was, until I remembered that the top is the sink. Duh.

Here is a picture of the finished product, the bathroom seems so roomy without anything in it.

Our success!

As I looked at the empty bathroom with the lonely sink base; I had a brief “hubby moment of panic” about how much we have to do.

The bathroom; it will be a while until someone is brushing their teeth in that sink

I usually deal well with stress and overwhelming to-do lists; I like to break it down and focus on one thing at a time. Do you ever feel overwhelmed with renovations…or life in general? What are some your coping techniques? I have been known to revert to potato chips and entirely too much caffeine, but I am trying to curb those unhealthy choices. Share below, I would love to hear from you!

Bathroom Brainstorm

Currently we have one working bathroom in the Yrppie house. It looks like this:

Shanty bathroom

Rotting shanty shower

The one that still has a toilet is on the first floor off of the kitchen in the shanty. If you have been following the blog you may remember that the shanty is actually on the demolish and rebuild list. It is slated for Spring 2013ish. The bathroom has wall-to-wall carpet and smells about as good as it looks. It is an interesting combination of mold, rotting wood and really, really old urine.

The shanty bathroom is not that bad; when I student-taught in Mexico many years ago I used a bucket over a hole behind a shower curtain at a restaurant, so I compare everything to that. (It is a constant reminder of how much we take good plumbing and running water for granted in this country.)  Still, I really do not want to shower in a bathroom that I have to wear shoes in for the next six months. Luckily, the decision to complete the renovation of both floors at once solved our problem. We are going to be installing a new bathroom on the second floor exactly where the old bathroom was. I wish I could show you pictures of the 2nd floor bathroom before we ripped it out, but I did not take any pictures. Just imagine a really small, moldy bathroom with a tub that is ready to fall through the ceiling.

Speaking of tubs, the hubby and I went back and forth on the tub issue. This bathroom will eventually be dedicated to Maggie and her sibling, if we have another child (NO-I am NOT pregnant). We both agreed we wanted the bathroom to have a double sink; however, adding a double sink where there used to be a single takes up more space. Our original plan was to install a stand-up shower with no tub to save space. As we finalized plans though, I had a change of heart and I decided I wanted a tub. The hubby didn’t. I won. The tub won (reminder: relationships are NOT about competition but compromise). The hubby compromised by moving the bathroom walls and making space for the tub (one more reason why I love him).

Now that the hubby and contractors have enlarged it, the size is around 8×8. The pic below is before the wall was erected. You can see how small it was.

Hubby trying to prove to me we cannot fit a tub in the bathroom

Once we had finalized dimensions we went to the Ikea website to look for examples of small bathrooms (Ikea specializes in bathrooms for small spaces). We found the perfect sink with two faucets, a long trough and two drawers. Even better, the base was on SALE for $99 when we got to the store! (I think the original price was $479.) We bought it immediately. It is 39 inches long and will fit perfectly in the bathroom. I found a picture of it on the Sunset Magazine website so you can check it out below (I LOVE that magazine; I think I was meant to live on the west coast.)

Photo by Martin Inger / IKEA , written by Emily Hsieh

That is about as far as we have with the bathroom plans; I am working on a floorplan to share with you next week. This bathroom will be the primary bathroom in the house until the shanty addition is complete, and we add on a Master Bathroom. Currently we are spoiled with a HUGE bathroom in our Harrisburg house; transitioning to a smaller bathroom will be a challenge, but totally worth it. (See how our roomy our Harrisburg bathroom by clicking on the link below, it is a Maggie classic. As an FYI-her disbelief in the beginning is because I picked up all the dirty clothes on the bathroom floor).

Do you have small children or big children who share a bathroom? What tips or suggestions can you add to our bathroom brainstorm; I would love to hear them!

Kitchen plans complete!

20% off your ENTIRE KITCHEN purchase-jackpot!

Last Thursday I posted a quick and dirty post as we headed out the door to Ikea to plan the kitchen. We arrived to Ikea around 2:30 pm (it took a little longer because we had to make a Starbucks and potty stop along the turnpike). Seven hours later we walked out with a complete kitchen plan, a bathroom sink and a happy marriage. Mission complete!

That is not to say there was not a little drama and problem-solving along the way. The first dilemma was that neither of us had thought about needing cash for the Turnpike tolls. The hubby (or should I call him “Ned Stark”) saved the day and remembered his secret stash of “gold dragons”.  “Gold dragons?” you may ask…you have never paid for anything in dragons? All the cool kids are doing it (all of the cool, rich kids in the imaginary city of Westeros). The hubby is currently obsessed with Game of Thrones and has taken to carrying dollar coins that he refers to as “dragons”, the currency used in the book/TV series. He likes to leave them as tips when we go places; he thinks he is starting a trend. I think we are just asking to be pelted with the coins by a disgruntled waitress who does not want them weighing down her apron.

Once we had arrived at Ikea we grabbed some swedish grub. Important note: after lunch and before dinner is not the best time to get Ikea food, even the meatballs were dry. While eating, we game-planned our afternoon, set up some rules and expectations, and printed out our Ikea Family Card. The Ikea Family Card has perks like discounts on monthly specials, free coffee and tea in the cafe, and an extra 30 minutes for kids in Smaland. The extra 30 minutes of child care is key; without it you only get one hour. You cannot even walk around the store in one hour.

Once we had a game plan I went down and put the child into Smaland, and the hubby headed to the kitchen section to start planning (actually he headed out to the car first because I left our blueprints in the car, whoops). If you have never used the childcare at Ikea I totally recommend it; there are things for them to color, movies to watch and places to climb. Maggie loves it. Did I mention it is free? That is what makes it really awesome. You put their shoes in a bin and sign them in, then you get a matching bracelet so no one can kidnap your kiddo.  Your child gets to burn off some energy and you get to have child-free time to spend argue with your significant other while perusing the store.

Maggie’s bin-note the wallet, proof that I did have it at this point in our day

The planning started out a little rough. They had a lot of employees staffing the kitchen area and not a lot of customers (not a lot meaning TWO customers counting us). Apparently they like to keep a lot of staff standing around; it took a while to get someone to actually help us. After some time spent being frustrated we were able to get a helper, Stephen, who disclosed that he was “new” and still figuring everything out. However, he ended up being a wonderful source of information, and I am pretty confident that by the end of our night Stephen could consider himself an “expert”.

Nick & our kitchen guru, Stephen

I spent a lot of time walking back and forth between the kitchen display we were trying to replicate within our floor plan, and the computer. The hubby did all the computer work. This is what he looked like for about 4 hours:

Nick considering a career change to drafting

Eventually I just gave up my seat next to the hubby so Stephen could sit down. At this point in the process I realized that I had left my wallet and phone over at the kitchen display (this was right around the time I was pondering why they do not sell wine at Ikea). Luckily someone had turned it into Lost & Found. Collecting it involved about a mile long walk to retrieve it, but I was relieved to get both items back intact. I then headed to Smaland to pick up the kid. We were unable to get the kitchen planned in the allotted time for Smaland, but there were kids for her to play with in the kitchen section by the time we got back, so that was a good diversion.

Maggie outside of Smaland

We wrapped up our plans, and were given a purchase list right around 8:30 PM. Our total cost, including appliances is right around 15,000 dragons (can you imagine paying that in dollar coins?). We will save 20% off of the total so that will bring us down to $12,000. That includes a refrigerator large enough for a polar bear to live in it, a microwave, a dishwasher, a professional-sized range AND a wall oven. Imagine the Christmas cookie possibilities. We did not order Thursday night because we still had to pick out the inserts for drawers and cabinets (utensil organizers, pots & pans organizers, etc). This would have involved a lot of brain power along with conversation, and at that point in the evening we did not have it in us (I know, first-world problems). Plus, we still needed to snag our bathroom sink before closing (we are also in the process of planning a bathroom on the second floor-there will be a post later this week). Looks like we are headed back down in a couple weeks.

So what will the new kitchen look like? I converted some views of our plans into images so I could post them for you to see. Check them out:

Kitchen view from the glass doors leading outside

View of kitchen from dining room

So what do you think? We are going with white cabinets and butcher block counter tops. These images have no counter tops in the design because we have to order them locally. I realized after looking at my Pinterest Kitchen Ideas board that I am obsessed with light, white, airy cabinets and dark floors and counters. The hubby said we cannot stain the counters; so I am still trying to figure out other options to make them dark. We considered granite (really pricey) and concrete (really heavy). What do you have for your kitchen counters, or what would you want in your “dream kitchen”?

Ikea bound…

So we are heading out to get our kitchen on at Ikea. I saw this map a while ago and it seemed to fit our experience perfectly. The website it comes from, Pleated-Jeans.com also has other funny stuff-check it out. We are going to try really, really hard not to be the “arguing couple” noted below.

Framed up and ready to go!

The hubby and the contractors have been working steadily to get the house ready for the electricity to be run this weekend. We went up this past Sunday to check it out, and it is pretty amazing to see the layout. All the rooms have framed up, including closets and widened doorways. I got to help the hubby put dry wall blocks up, which involved the use of power tools. This was not nearly as much fun as I thought it would, but that could have a lot to do with the sweltering temperatures and the adult beverages I indulged in the night before.

What does the yrppie homestead look like all framed up and ready to go? Here is a reminder of what the dining area looked like before:

Dining area BEFORE taken from the shanty door

Really bad picture of dining room door (on the right) from kitchen area and living room door (on the left)

Here is what it looks like after:

Closed up shanty door in the dining area

View of dining area from kitchen (shanty door is by the ladder, all covered up now)

The first floor is exactly what I wanted with this space. I do not think the hubby thought it would look right opened up, but it is perfect! Here is what the kitchen looked like before and after:

Kitchen space before demolition and “the bump”

Covered porch attached to the kitchen-this now “the bump”

Door opened that leads to the shanty from the bump

View of kitchen area with hot dogs (bunless)

Next I will share the living room with you. I apologize that the pics do not match perfectly. As I was putting this post together I was cursing myself for not taking pics from the exact same spots for the before and after series. Rookie mistakes.

Living area space before:

Front door in living room taken from stairs

Dining area picture taken from living area

Oak stairs in living room heading to the 2nd floor

And the after pics:

Shot of living areas taken from the kitchen area

View of living room with new sub-flooring

Basically we opened up the whole first floor, but on the second floor we left the rooms intact and widened the doorways and framed out closets. Starting with the soon-to-be office space, here is what it used to look like:

Stairs leading to the creepy attic-before

Creepy attic stairs after

Another after shot of the creepy attic stairs

And here you can see what it looks like with the wall removed. We decided to open up the staircase leading to the attic in the office. The downside is there will be no way to close the attic off from the office, but we figured when it is eventually turned into a guest room the office door can always be closed.

Side view of the stairs leading to the creepy attic

So there is your really detailed look at the creepy attic stairs. Moving onto the rest of the floor. Here is the master bedroom before and after:

Master bedroom closet-before

Master bedroom

Master bedroom closet

View of hallway and doorways taken from the office area-master bedroom doorway on right

And here are the before and after of the other two rooms, and new closet space created by splitting the sewing space into two closets:

Maggie’s bedroom before

Spare bedroom before

View of the master bedroom to the left and the doorway to the hallway from the guest room

View of spare room closet and Maggie’s room behind the closet

At this point the we are ready for the electrical work which will take place this weekend. My brother is going to come up for the weekend to do all of the wiring with the hubby’s assistance. (He is an electrician by trade.) The only thing we have left to do before the wiring can take place is to finish the kitchen plans. (Yes, I did post about finishing them a few weeks ago; we work to deadlines.) Before we left the house this weekend we did one final check on measurements so that the plans are precise. We are going to finalize the kitchen plans tonight (for real this time), and then are planning an Ikea trip tomorrow. Hopefully, it will not end in a divorce. We have been known to have a lively debate or two in the middle of the bathroom aisle. That being said, Ikea is one my favorite places to window shop. I love all the mini-rooms they have set up and the kid’s mac and cheese. The hubby loves the meatballs. Have you ever been to an Ikea? What was your favorite part?

Daddy’s little helper

Measure twice; cut once

Maggie micromanaging daddy


Kitchen Dreams…Planning Nightmares

Tonight the hubby and I are sitting down to layout and plan the kitchen. We have picked out an Ikea kitchen per my request. I am super excited about the white cabinets with lots of room for organizing and wine bottles; he is super excited about swedish meatballs and teeny-tiny allen wrenches. The planning and layout you do all on-line; it is in 3D and can be user friendly once you know what you are doing. Once the plans are done you save it in your Ikea account, head to the store, and share it with one of their “Kitchen Experts”.  They look it over and either give you the thumbs up, which means they can then help you order all of the flat-packed materials you will need from their little kiosk, or they give you a thumbs down. Thumbs down means you then have head down to Smaland to see if you can extend your 4-year olds play time so that you and your significant other can have a quiet domestic dispute over the changes that need to be made in the presence of a “Kitchen Expert”. We are hoping to avoid being “that couple” in the kitchen section and perfect our plans tonight. I will let you know how we make out. We are becoming quite skilled in the art of compromise throughout this renovation process. Check out the pictures below to see our inspiration (these were taken on my phone in Ikea so the quality is pretty poor). What do you think a “dream kitchen” should have?